pecunium: Stanislav Petrov saved your life.
That would have been four days after my twelfth birthday.
I wrote an essay on the experience of surviving to adulthood as a member of Generation X some eleven years ago. It's very dated now--it was written as a responsorial to a spate of national media attention to the "slacker" generation, and how Baby Boom America (remember the era of Thirtysomething?) needed to fear for its future, and it's directed to the hypothetical Baby Boomer Journalist Afraid of Gen X--but I've had it online for nostalgia's sake.
I can only speak for my friends in this, for the tight circle of acquaintances I went to high school and college with. But within those limits, I can say that I think my generation reacted to 25 the way most generations are supposed to react to 30--with shock and reassessment. And not so much, in our case, because we suddenly became aware of our mortality, sagging bellies and fine hairline cracks, but because we realized that if we had, somehow, miraculously made it to 25 despite the sort of gnawing understated terrors of the Reagan Cold War, then we--and the planet--might make it another fifty or a hundred years, and bloody hell, we'd better come up with a plan.
Gosh, you know, I can't remember the last time I've heard somebody refer to Generation X as a demographic? We're just consumers now.
Anyway, here it is:
We had books and stories: War Day. The Cold and the Dark. "The Manhattan Phone Book (abridged)." "Damnation Alley." Nuclear War: What’s In It For You. You made us watch Threads and The Day After and read Hiroshima in school, and we have never forgiven you. We imagined dying like Marie Curie, fingers rotting as she recorded the progress of her disease. We imagined a much different "end of history."
Nuclear war was too big to worry about, so we accepted it. In the event of a nuclear holocaust, you had bomb shelters and "duck and cover." We had plans to drive to the Pratt & Whitney or Sikorsky plant and sit on the hoods of the cars with the radio turned up, drinking from a bottle of whisky and holding a sun reflector. Nero had a point: when the end is inevitable, do it in style... We had accepted our deaths. Now we are standing in the sunlight blinking, and wondering what to do with our suddenly long and frightening lives.
Understand: we never expected to live this long.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say.